Author adventures in marketing…

The sun is out, the sky is blue, there are a few clouds but they aren’t spoiling the view. As tempting as it is to go out and enjoy the fresh air, here I am in front of my screen trying to get my head around book marketing.

I love writing my stories but it’s another thing altogether spreading the word about them. Writing is fun but hard work, marketing is even harder. I enjoy producing graphics, I know my way around social media (to a point) but when it comes to advertising, it’s a whole new ball game. Suddenly I need to know target audiences. I have to create a budget for spending. I have to measure results and assess what works and what doesn’t.

I’ve watched lots of instructive book marketing videos. I’ve read the experiences of other authors. I’ve listened to podcasts galore. Somehow I still feel a little adrift because everyone has a different experience, what you have to do is weigh up the common denominators that lead to success. Even then, luck comes into it. In truth, writing is like any other business and a book is a product. However, it’s more of a personal kind of product to the author who has to do the promotional work so sensitivities have to be quashed.

It’s not the first time I’ve had to market a product as I’ve always worked in business of some kind but a book, well that’s a bit different. I see a book as an emotional product, it’s much more personal. The stories I write will strike a chord with some and may leave others cold. I have to put this at the back of my mind and decide that everyone will love them. Positivity is the only way forward. Once upon a time I sold books by other authors, that was easy. When you come to sell your own, it’s a very different feeling.

The only way to deal with things you aren’t comfortable with is to make them fun. Quite by chance I came across a site called AllAuthor.com and they provide all kinds of useful tools for promotion. It’s a great site for readers too, well worth a look if you want to find indie authors and the genres you enjoy.

When I wrote The Eight of Swords, I didn’t do much promotion other than through social media. This time I want to stretch my readership far wider. I’m thinking of the future and the next books I will write as much as my existing ones.

My first proper ad via Facebook taught me that it’s not only your book you may get commentary on, it’s the way you plan to sell it. For The Isolation Sex Stories I decided to sell it exclusively via Amazon. This is partly because I wanted to test how that would go and it meant I got a free ISBN (a number which simply put, is a product identifier and almost every book has one). At the time of publication funds were tight and it seemed the best way to go. Also, let’s face it, Amazon is one of the largest book selling sites in the world and Kindle is massively popular. In business terms it was a no brainer to use them.

Amazon has come under fire for alleged tax avoidance in the UK. Tax avoidance isn’t illegal but of course it is emotive. When my ad for The Eight of Swords popped up on one Facebook user’s newsfeed, he decided to plant a gif in my post’s comments concerning Amazon not paying tax. Unfortunately I had to point out that Facebook had been accused of similar and that the person commenting on Amazon’s tax avoidance happened to be using Facebook to promote his work and comment on my post. We may not like what these big companies do but we shouldn’t be bringing one another down over it.

The other thing the commentator pointed out was that he didn’t like unsolicited advertisements popping up in his newsfeed. Well, this is easily fixed, all you have to do is adjust your settings to say that you don’t want to be shown personally targeted advertisements. In truth, I didn’t mind the commentator being grumpy about the advertisements, I get a bit fed up with them at times too. Sadly what he didn’t want to acknowledge was that we are both people trying to show others our work, and yes, obtain sales. If you don’t like what Amazon does business wise, if you find it doesn’t fit with your morals, fine, don’t use it. But if you moan about Amazon while using Facebook, I think that might make you a little hypocritical…

Next time I will publish on a wider variety of platforms. Experimentation is always fun and interesting. I will write more about my experiences as I progress.

If you are a writer or a reader and want to comment on this post, please feel free to do so. I love to hear what people think.

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The story so far…

It is almost two months since I published The Isolation Sex Stories and what an amazing time it has been. I’m feeling a little worn out if I’m honest. Putting a collection of stories out into the public eye is a pretty daunting exercise and I waited with bated breath to see what people would say.

I didn’t really worry too much about the title I’d chosen, until it came to the day of the book launch, then suddenly it hit me that all sorts of people would be watching my live reading. Suddenly I felt nervous! It’s one thing to joke about the saucy stories with your friends, quite another to launch them out onto the unsuspecting general public. Let’s face it, everyone has an opinion. What offends some folk will tickle others. Pop the word ‘sex’ into the title and who knows what might come back at you?

It has been very amusing and gratifying to get feedback. Most readers have a particular story that they enjoy the most, or strikes a chord. One said he felt like he was actually in the room with the characters of Don’t Touch Me and while he felt like he was a voyeur, he found it really funny. Another said that he could identify with a character from almost every story. This is brilliant for me, any writer wants their characters to come to life and be truly believable.

Here are some of the things my reviewers have said so far…

A great collection of short stories! Written with intelligence, warmth and wit. Some much-needed light relief after a difficult year.

Witty and amusing, a really good fun read. Petra Kidd puts warmth and understanding with humour into what has been a difficult time for all of us. This is an easy quirky read that will make you chuckle. I loved it. Makes a good present for friends who are struggling, it will give them a good laugh.

Petra captures the mood of our Lockdown Nation in a saucily humorous way, she nails it! Each short story is captivating, intriguing and very funny … I actually found myself laughing out loud so many times with tears rolling down my face.

It’s also entertaining to find out what shocks readers. With Fifty Shades of Grey being one of the most successful books of our time, I hardly thought my little collection would raise many eyebrows. The everyday antics of my locked down characters seem nowhere near as shocking to me as Christian Grey’s predilections. However, we are all different and apparently some people have even learnt new words thanks to my stories. I’m feeling proud, it may help them when next they play Scrabble!

I am wondering if I should create another cover/title for The Isolation Sex Stories for people who might feel embarrassed reading it in public places. My other idea is to run a competition called ‘I dare you,’ daring readers to take a selfie with the book while reading it in a public place. Let me know what you think… As the world begins to open up again, this could be the right moment, the prize will be sweet, I promise you.

While I am working hard on promoting The Isolation Sex Stories, I have started writing my next two books. They are two very different subject matters so I hope I can pull it off.

If you do go ahead and read The Isolation Sex Stories, please leave a review at Amazon. Every review is incredibly important and special to me. I worked hard to produce the book so it’s a very much appreciated reward to receive them. Please be honest, that’s even more important. I want to know what you didn’t like, as much as what you did.

Also, please use Smile.Amazon.co.uk or .com to buy my books because that way Amazon will make a donation to charity (at no extra charge to you.) I’d love it if you could choose the Samaritans but of course, whatever charity you choose is fine by me. I love to think that others will benefit while readers enjoy my books.

Being an indie author is a never ending learning curve. Follow my blog to join me on this adventure!

For now, stay safe and please connect with me via social media. Don’t be shy, come say hi!

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Please vote!

They say not to judge a book by its cover but I need you to do just that. If you liked the cover of my book The Eight of Swords, please vote for it in the ‘Cover of the Month’ contest on AllAuthor.com by clicking on the link below. There’s not long to go before the first round is over, just a day left to vote!

All Author cover of the month.

Read below what reviewers had to say about this suspenseful short story.

If you haven’t read The Eight of Swords yet, it could be the perfect read for you . It’s a short story with plenty of drama and intrigue.

Here is what some of the reviewers on Amazon have said…

Really enjoyed The Eight of Swords, the storyline was original and kept you guessing! Rich descriptions throughout and really quite evocative … It divides opinion too, perhaps like me you will side with the story teller and then as the story unfolds your heart leaps in-between!

I downloaded this to my phone- which was a bonus as I couldn’t put it down; it was engaging and made me think of what I would of done, how I would have dealt with the same situation- it was intriguing to follow

Just finished reading this short story – it kept my attention from beginning to end (no mean feat!) and I enjoyed reading about Jayne’s reactions and feelings about the family who had moved into her home. Looking forward to reading the sequel.

The Eight of Swords and its sequel The Putsi are available via Amazon Kindle.

Please follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for regular updates. Connect and say hello, I’d love to hear what you are reading!

The Date

The Covid-19 pandemic sure threw a spanner in the works for all of those singletons out there who were going out on dates and looking for the next Mr/Miss Right. Overnight everyone had to isolate and give up any hope of amorous adventures for the foreseeable future.


Recently I found a big box of old letters from my younger days, some of which are from friends detailing their romantic lives at the time. We all took it for granted we could go out and meet whoever we wanted. Oh, how we complained and revelled in the ups and downs of our youthful adventures, no clue of what the future might hold. In one letter a friend says her boyfriend complained about having to wear a condom, if only he had known that by 2020 a condom would be the least of his concerns!


Fast forward quite a few years (no, I am not going to say how many) and suddenly single people found themselves having to not only date online but having to have virtual dates rather than real ones. Previously, those home alone were used to online dating sites like Tinder and Grinder, they knew that they could meet the dates in real time if they wanted to. Covid-19 changed all that. While they might find someone they liked online, now they could only see and talk to them online. No meeting up at a restaurant or bar. No first kiss. No one nightstands. No holding hands on romantic walks, no weekends away.


The whole conversation about ‘protection’ came with a new aspect to it. Not only are sexual diseases an issue; The Virus is a major problem too. We are all wearing masks and keeping our distance, all physical intimacy quashed. It’s all very bizarre and lonely for the singletons right now.


One of the stories in my new book The Isolation Sex Stories takes an older couple on a first date via Zoom, it is a fun story but I can imagine all the lonely people who have been in need of companionship. It’s an exciting date for the lady in the story but will she be thrilled to find a new companion? There’s only one way to find out…

The Date


All of the stories in my new book are quirky and different, let me know which one(s) you like best.


The Isolation Sex Stories


I wonder how many people ended up dating via Zoom. If you have a funny or unusual lockdown story check out this page and you could end up winning a free signed copy of The Isolation Sex Stories.

Please follow me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for regular updates.

Sequel to The Eight of Swords – The Putsi

The Putsi

If you have something special belonging to someone else, what happens when they want it back?

 Eighteen years have passed since a family of Romanian gypsies invaded Jayne Patchett’s house.  In that time her life has changed remarkably, she is a successful artist, happily in love, living in an idyllic country cottage.  But all those years ago, one of the gypsies gave her a lucky pouch, the putsi.  Now, one of them wants it back.  Drama returns to Jayne’s life as secrets are unveiled and she begins to wonder who she can trust. 

Available as a short story ebook via Amazon & Smashwords

Cover Story

 I recently listened to a Barnes & Noble One on One Author interview with Chip Kidd who is the associate art director at Knopf an imprint of Random House.  In the first half of the interview he talks about a book he has written and later on he talks about cover design and advertising.

 I had never heard of Chip Kidd before this interview.  When seeking out author interviews I have to admit I was at first curious because he shares my surname.  Upon finding out he is a well-respected cover designer my interest was piqued further.

 Always having had an interest in art and design, I particularly appreciate a fine cover when I see one.  The whole marketing process fascinates me and cover design is an integral part of that. 

 The obvious question was asked during the interview ‘does cover design sell a book?’  This is a question I was asking myself not so long ago as I published my first Ebook The Eight of Swords.  The temptation was to launch into designing the cover myself.  I am more than happy to browse photo libraries for hours to find the right image for my blog so why would it be any different for my book cover?  As luck would have it a designer offered to do it for me.  In fact he relished the opportunity and I was delighted by his enthusiasm.  If I had done it myself I might well have spent a long time agonising over images and working out how to create the finished product in a professional looking manner.  In truth, I doubt I would have had any more satisfaction doing it myself than letting him do it for me.  Also the time I spent trying to do it could be spent writing!

 The finished cover design for my Ebook was far different to anything I imagined and far exceeded my expectations. It perfectly fits with the story – dramatic and mysterious.  Also it looks great as a thumbnail image, which can be quite a challenge.

 Back to the question ‘does cover design sell a book?’  Well Chip’s answer pretty much came as I expected, in the negative.  He believed as I do, it’s the subject matter, the blurb on the back and the reviews that sell the book.  I only believe this based on how I buy books.  I do like to see a stylish cover in ‘come and get me’ colours with an intriguing image and cool font design but when browsing a bookshelf or Amazon it’s the author credentials and story that sell me the book.  I will check out the reviews and if they are well above average on the low stars I may well pass it by but I don’t take too much stock of them because hey, everyone is an individual and even more so when it comes to being attracted by reading material. 

 Having said all that, a poorly designed cover can be a real turn off.  Psychologically we want to be attracted and feel that we are valued enough for someone to make an effort to draw us in.  I know that if one of my favourite authors published a book with a tacky cover I would be disappointed and to be perfectly honest really quite shocked.  However, being one of my favoured authors, if I liked the sound of the story I would disregard the cover.

In truth when I am browsing for books and see an author I don’t know with a cover design that looks pretty atrocious it is very off putting to say the least.  If they didn’t make the effort with the cover design, how much effort did they put into the story?  It’s superficial but it is hard not to make assumptions.  Us humans usually judge first on appearance whether it is right or wrong. 

 As with my business, I am a great believer in display and making an effort for the customer.  After all without the customer there would be no business and it’s the same with readers, I want them to feel they are getting something great on the outside and within, a totally finished product.

 The Eight of Swords is available to buy to download at Amazon and Smashwords.

 Check out Chip Kidd’s podcast at Barnes & Noble here.

 http://media.barnesandnoble.com/?fr_story=6ca2b600632093d8f9cf1dc8a6852a70aeb4d98b&rf=sitemap

 And his cover designs here:

http://bookcoverarchive.com/Chip_Kidd

 

 

 

 

 

The Eight of Swords by Petra Kidd – Excerpt

When a big event happens in the world, people usually remember what they were doing, where they were, who they were with, how old they were when it happened.  For many years to come, they will say, “oh yes, when the planes hit the towers, I had just arrived in Cuba for my first holiday in two years,” or “when the Queen Mother’s death was announced, the entire family were here for lunch, including Aunty Martha who we hadn’t seen since Uncle Stephen passed away.”  All the little details of the moment they heard something terrible or significant happened come flooding into their mind.

 It is the same with more personal events. Happenings, that in a single moment of now then permeate our thoughts and memories forever after.  The day I came home to find my key wouldn’t turn in the lock, my head was full of how one of my colleagues had committed suicide, messily, under a tube train during rush hour.  I can’t tell you that I had any gut feeling or intuition that day would become such a significant turning point in my life. It started like any other, my alarm went off, I pressed the ten minute snooze option, shut my eyes tight and hoped each minute would become an hour in real time.  Of course this is impossible but when you hate your work, every little delay in getting there becomes a mini freedom. 

 I can even remember the dream I had before I woke up. It involved a tea party in the middle of a field with buttercups and dandelions, a voice said ‘don’t pick the dandelions or you will wee in your bed.’  I often wonder if that somehow signalled the events of the day and why if it did, did I get such a pointless and unhelpful warning?

 I stood on the doorstep for a full ten minutes before my poor befuddled brain would take in the fact my key no longer fitted this lock.  Stepping back I inspected the house to make sure that in my confused and distracted state I hadn’t mistaken someone else’s house for my own but no, the door remained red with a brass knocker in the shape of a mermaid, weeds had grown over the air vent, and rain dripped in a reluctant waterfall from the guttering.  No, this was definitely my abode of the past eight years, the place I bought after my second divorce vowing I would never again share my home, my heart, my possessions with another person. 

 Stepping back I glanced at my watch, I don’t know why.  Every evening I walked home from work, setting out from my office around sixish whatever the weather, regardless of time of year. I trudged through snow, battled wind, rain and hail, slid around on ice, squinted through fog and wore a ridiculously large hat to keep the rarely sighted sun of recent summers off my pale skinned face.  Somehow, I seemed to think the time might give me the answer as to why my key wouldn’t fit the lock.  Then I caught sight out of the corner of my eye, the curtain twitch open a second. It fell back again instantly. 

 Did I imagine that?  I thought, standing there stupidly as rainwater soaked my shoulders.  I leant over and tapped on the window.  Nothing happened.  The curtain didn’t move again.  It occurred to me at this point that perhaps I should try using my back door key.  I fumbled to pick it out among all the other keys on the ring: keys to my desk drawers at work, the shed key, my elderly neighbour’s key, a bicycle lock key I had ceased to use many moons ago. I began to walk round the right side of the house, across the tiny front garden, through the side gate and along the muddy path to the back door.  Again I inserted the key into the lock, tried to turn it and it did not budge.  I managed to stop myself from hammering on the frosted glass window of the door. How ridiculous would that be?  Knocking on my own door to be let into the house where only I lived.  On examination the lock looked shinier than my normal rusty edged lock, brand new in fact.  My heart jigged a little, in a downward way, my legs weakened and my stomach did a back flip, panic had finally set in. 

 I put the keys in my coat pocket and walked slowly back to the front of the house, pondering the situation.  Back at the front door I reached up and grasped the mermaid knocker firmly and thumped brass against brass three times.  Nothing happened.  I inspected the lock; again it appeared to be shiny and new.  A couple of deep scratches and a dent I didn’t recognise were next to it.  Someone had changed the locks. 

 I simply didn’t know what to do.  Bizarrely the thought ran through my mind that somehow my colleague had faked his death, come round, broken into my house and locked me out.  Why would he do that?  We hadn’t been particularly friendly, or not friendly. For the past year of his appointment to my team we exchanged personal pleasantries on an irregular basis, shared a filing cabinet, made each other the odd cup of tea and displayed only cursory interest in one another beyond our work.  A burglar wouldn’t have changed the locks. I had no family who would create such a prank. My parents lived abroad. My brother, a well off stockbroker lived happily in Surrey with his wife and two children. Extended family included only a very elderly aunt and a spinster cousin in Australia.  My friends and acquaintances were not of the type to do this either, they were for the most part professionals, reasonably well off, fully encompassed in their own complicated lives, far too busy and harassed to decide to break into my house, change the locks and then refuse to open the door.  They weren’t the kind of people who would think such an elaborate prank funny. 

Available to buy to download via Amazon Kindle.

To read on, click here The Eight of Swords 

A short story of circa 13k words

Copyright © 2012 Petra Kidd

 

So what would you do?

What would you do if you came home to find strangers sitting in your home as if it were their own? 

It’s not such a silly question.

Usually it is landlords that have problems with squatters when a property has been left empty awhile.  If someone gains entry without actually breaking an entry or causing damage  it’s not an easy task to get them to leave and you would have to apply for a court order.  This can take quite a number of weeks, if not months in some cases.

Terrible when you think about it, especially if it is your actual home.  Some more wealthy people are having to hire security guards to make sure their homes don’t get invaded while they are away.

So how would you react if you came home and found strangers occupying your space?

I had a small taster of what this would feel like many years ago.  I was in my late teens enjoying a holiday in France with my best friend.  We’d found a lovely youth hostel in La Rochelle and a couple of days into the holiday we hit the beach happy to lie around on it all morning without a care in the world. 

Around lunchtime we decided to head back to our room to get changed.  When I tried to open the door to our room I found it locked.  Suddenly the door opened and a very tall German lad stood grinning at me.  I checked up and down the corridor, this was definitely our room so I told him so.  Luckily he understood English.  He laughed “oh no, it is our room!”

I persisted arguing with him in a nonsensical way until he invited me in to see for myself that our belongings had totally vanished and in their place were rucksacks etc belonging to him and his friends.  His friends sat grinning at us, highly amused.

We weren’t amused at all, and somewhat confused we headed to reception and I let forth my best French swear words at the person behind the counter.  Immediately we were led to a cupboard where our belongings had been unceremoniously dumped!  Apparently they were going to move us to a smaller room but hadn’t expected us back so early. 

So I can identify a little with my main character Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords when she returns home to find her key won’t turn in the lock.  She lives alone so she knows something is seriously wrong when she can’t get in to her own house.  I remembered my confusion and exasperation well when I was writing about hers.  Of course her situation is far worse than mine was.

Probably the most amusing thing to come out of my brief experience of having my room invaded by strangers was my friend’s reaction to my sudden ability to swear so eloquently in French!  She was very impressed.

Jayne Patchett in The Eight of Swords has a much more interesting and difficult experience than mine and it goes to show you can’t always know how you will react in such a bizarre situation.

The Eight of Swords is available now on Amazon Kindle, it’s a short story. 

Click on the link below to buy.   If you don’t have a Kindle you can still download the ebook to your pc or another device.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Eight-of-Swords-ebook/dp/B006S1RWGA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1325603687&sr=8-1